Monday, March 4, 2013

Common Complaints about Dieting and Weight Loss

When I read other health and weight loss blogs and forum posts,  I see a lot of repeated complaints and excuses. Having made most of these myself and learned from the experience, I thought I'd do my best to give you my point of view on how to approach them and stay on track with your goals.

  • "I'm losing 1-2 lbs a week, but it's not fast enough."
    • When we're unhappy with ourselves and going through a physical transformation, it's really common to want some sort of magical cure. We all know that feeling! We want to wake up the next morning to find all of our insecurities have melted away. Well, folks. weight loss is not magic! This is why I'm leery of any ads that say things like "the pounds just melted away." That gives you impression that you don't have to do anything to make it work and that's just untrue. Stop thinking that just because you have plan or you are going to the gym more than you used to that you won't have to put in the time and the grueling work that it takes to meet your goal. Losing one or two pounds in a week is fantastic. That's a healthy rate for your body. I used to be so guilty of complaining that I was tired of not being "done yet." I behaved like I was a Christmas ham that needed to be done by dinner time! I let these impatient and discontent emotions consume me and ultimately derail any diet I ever tried. This time around I looked at how much weight I had to lose and made an estimate for how long this whole journey might take at a rate of 2 lbs lost per week. I immediately had to face the fact that it might take me a year and a few months to lose 120 lbs. I groaned and griped, but knowing what I was facing for the long haul helped me commit. I knew what I was getting into. Do yourself a favor and stop being hard on yourself for not going fast enough. If you're working out and you're eating right, the weight will come off. 
  • "My friend/husband/boyfriend is losing weight faster than me. It's not fair."
    • There are so many factors at work here. A lot of times (not always), guys are able lose weight faster than girls. It's just how they're built as humans. That doesn't make it easy. If you're a girl, don't hold yourself to their impossible standards. If your friend is the same sex as you, what are they doing to lose weight? Are you strength training? Are they not? Are you truly as committed as they are? Are they doing things right or are they actually suffering from some sort of disorder? Are your metabolisms really different? Even if you can answer all those questions, you need to focus on YOU. I know a lot of people in my social circle who have a few pounds they'd like to lose. They're all on their own personal journeys and so am I. A lot of them have a lot less weight too lose or progress to make than I do and it would be easy to get bitter about that, but jealousy is such a useless waste of my energy. That stuff is so arbitrary and out of your control. If you're worried about your diet, assess how it's going for you, talk to a nutritionist, and make sure you're executing a great plan that you can sustain. What works for your friends might not work for you. Make peace with that. 
  • "I hated this one workout I did and now I don't want to workout at all."
    • I have to admit, this one annoys me when I hear it. Do you know how many options you have, regardless of age, injury, or disability? Walking, running, dancing, Crossfit, spinning, weight training, yoga, Tai Chi, swimming, step aerobics, Freerunning, Martial Arts- too many to even list. There is something out there for everyone, but you have to follow through on finding it and sticking to it if it's going to do you any good. If you hate something, great! Don't do it, but don't throw up your hands and write off all exercise. That's just silly! I see so many people say, "I can't exercise." Can you walk even 10 minutes a day? Then do that! Just because you're not benching 300 lbs doesn't mean it's not worth your while. You can gradually increase the intensity of your workouts as you go. You don't need to have super high expectations of yourself when you start. At 250 lbs, you better believe I thought the idea of running was insanity. Now over 90 lbs lighter, I run three times a week because I slowly got myself ready for it. Today I ran 21 minutes without stopping for the first time and it felt great, but I didn't just wake up one day and decide to do that. I trained my body to handle it so that I'd have something I could do when I need to work out on vacation. The fact is, you need to be active no matter who you are and with all the options available to you, there's gotta be SOMETHING you can do and enjoy. Once you find that thing, do it and love it! AND! Don't be afraid to return to something you didn't like later in your progress because with your new fitness level you might find that you are less discouraged and more comfortable. 
  • "My friends get to eat all this stuff and I don't and now I'm sad."
    • Ok, first of all, your friends don't get to eat anything. They are choosing to eat what they want and so are you. If their priority is health, they're going to choose differently. If that's not a priority for them, they might not be as rigorous about portions and willpower as you are. You can only do what's right for you. The key is "choice." Don't let temptations control you if they arrive out of the blue (i.e. someone brings in cupcakes to work, you see a hotdog vendor on a street corner, or you pass a Godiva shop.). Treating yourself is fine as long as you plan for it. Then you can adjust the rest of your daily nutrition around that choice. I know I wouldn't make it through life if I were completely Nazi-like about what I ate every single day. Birthdays, holidays, and special occasions come up and you can enjoy them guilt free if you just put a little forethought into your choices. Bottom line, diets don't work if you eat all the food on your plan AND THEN start eating additional items on top of that. That's not a diet. That's just eating because you feel like it. Recognize the difference and learn how to incorporate indulgences into your plan when you want to. 
  • "The scale isn't moving. I feel like giving up."
    • I've been so guilty of this when I hit a plateau. Sometimes your body needs time to adjust. Keep up with your diet and exercise and science dictates that you will lose weight. It's when your frustration becomes an excuse for cheating or being lazy that people start losing it. I see so many people throw up their hands and say, "I'm doing EVERYTHING RIGHT." Are you? If you are, then great. Stop worrying. If you're not, get yourself back on track and the scale will move. After losing over 90 lbs on this quest, I'm no stranger to the plateau demon. All I can say is that it will stick around and make you doubt yourself and hate the process for a week or two and then bam, the scale moves again and you feel elated and super happy that you didn't derail yourself in frustration. It's worth it to stick it out!
  • "I cheated on my diet and now I can't get back on track."
    • When I cheated on my diet, I used to stop everything I was doing right and punish myself mentally. I'd give up on my diet and start filling my disappointment with more food. Then I'd get mad at myself for cheating more and I'd berate myself again. Then eat again- and so on. It was a vicious cycle. I've cheated on my diet a hand-full of times over the last 8 months, but I kept going. That's really the most vital piece of advice I can give. If you mess up, the results on the scale are punishment enough. If you truly want this for all the right reasons, you'll keep going. Just assess what happened. Try to figure out what triggered it and understand why you did it. Then forgive yourself and move on! Tomorrow is another opportunity for you to make great choices. Don't let one bad choice represent you when there's so much you have already done to improve your health. 

I realize that there's a bit of tough love in this post, but sometimes I think we all need a little kick in the caboose to remind us that this is a challenge and sometimes we're going to face roadblocks, pain, and stress, but that doesn't mean we should give up and say "this doesn't work" or "I can't do this." There are ways to get beyond your complaints and excuses. Learning how to move on from them is every bit as important as the results of your work. We have to change our thinking or those hard won results won't last. 


  1. I heard some advice somewhere on messing up that talked about how it you fell down a couple of stairs, would you purposely throw yourself down the whole staircase? That has stuck with me and helps at times.

    1. Ha! I haven't heard that one before! That is an awesome (and hilarious comparison). Thanks for sharing! I feel like that will stick with me too.